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Atlantic Lottery bets on Oscars

The Atlantic Lottery is betting some Canadians are ready to take the office Oscar pool to the next level.

Will Lincoln, Argo or Les Miserables take the top Oscar picture prize? Should Daniel Day-Lewis snag the top acting award and who will win best actress, Jessica Chastain or Jennifer Lawrence?

If the Golden Globe Awards on Sunday are anything to go by there are some clear favorites. The lottery, which is overseen by the governments of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador and Prince Edward Island, has launched a book for Oscar night and is taking wagers on some of the biggest categories.

James Reilly, senior brand manager of sports lotteries with Atlantic Lottery, said he is always looking for products that players may find entertaining. He says the product is regulated and the first of its kind in Canada.

"It's the heart of awards season right now," he says.

"It was an obvious choice to offer since millions of people tune in to the annual awards show. People are always casting their votes around the water cooler at work and now they have the option to make their predictions pay off."

Gambling is only legal in Canada through provincially-run bodies such as the Atlantic Lottery, but it's not without controversy. Experts fear the potentially disastrous effects of online betting given its ease of access, and that the activity is often done in solitary from the comfort of home.

The Atlantic Lottery says betting is done in a safe, regulated way, with all the proceeds going back to the founding governments with funds used to help fund essential services like roads, hospitals and schools in communities. It also says it promotes responsible play and safeguards to ensure action is kept to its region.

Moving odds

The Golden Globe show gave some clues on odds -- along with some hilarious celebrity ribs by hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler -- who may go home with the Oscar statuettes on Feb. 24.

Reilly says most odds moved following Sunday's show. In the best movie category, Lincoln saw its odds cut, meaning it became an even bigger favorite, while the supporting actor category saw the biggest movement as Christoph Waltz from Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained became more favored.

Betting on Oscar contenders is not a new phenomenon. Jessica Bridge, a spokeswoman for U.K.-based Ladbrokes, says it has run an Oscar book for about 10 years. Placing bets on celebrities and other novel categories is growing in popularity.

This year, however, action has been down a bit given Bond movie Skyfall failed to win the more high-profile Oscar nominations. However, crooner Adele won the Golden Globe for best song for Skyfall.

"It's very much a two-horse race across most categories between Lincoln and Les Mis so there's not really a lot of money to be made by punters this year because it's quite obvious, as far as we're concerned, who is going to win," says Bridge.